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An experimental rat model for MRI-compatible transcranial direct current stimulation
Your Name (Name - Surname)1, (Other Name1,) Name of your supervisor1
1Biomedical MR Imaging and Spectroscopy Group, Center for Image Sciences, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stroke is the leading cause of chronic adult disability worldwide. Although treatment options after the acute stage are limited, some spontaneous functional reorganization is observed in the brain. This reorganization may be modulated by noninvasive brain stimulation such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to potentially improve functional recovery. tDCS studies in humans thus far have yielded promising yet inconclusive results due to widely differing experimental protocols and subject groups. Thus, more reproducible and controlled experiments are needed, with a promising role for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to elucidate tDCS-induced changes in functional connectivity and perfusion in the brain. The aim of this study is to establish a rat model for MRI-compatible tDCS to test stimulation set-up and parameters, which may further our understanding of the mechanisms and treatment potentials of tDCS. Two electrodes will be fixed directly to the cranium over the bilateral sensorimotor regions in Sprague-Dawley rats. In a 4.7 T MRI scanner, a weak current will be induced between the electrodes, preceded and followed by resting-state functional MRI and perfusion MRI. We expect to find increased functional connectivity in the brain regions beneath the anode, and the reverse effect beneath the cathode. If successful, the technique will be applied under various stimulation conditions to study the effects on healthy animals and animals with experimentally induced stroke. This would contribute to our understanding of the mode of action of therapeutic tDCS and may guide further studies to optimize tDCS as a stroke treatment.